Tour Report: First-round observations

PGA Tour

By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent

NORTON, Mass. — Players constantly looked to the treetops on Friday — they were trying to judge the wind. It was very difficult to pick a club because several greens sit back in groves of trees, causing the wind to swirl. At one point, you could feel the wind blowing off the left at the fourth green but the flag was standing straight out to the left, back into the wind.

Afternoon: The top two players on the leaderboard both had afternoon tee times. Seung-Yul Noh started at 12:22 p.m. ET off the first tee, while Chris Kirk was in the second-to-last group to begin play on the back nine with a 1:22 p.m. time. Kirk said he thought the course played easier in the afternoon because all the par 5s were downwind. He managed to play the trio of par 5s in 4 under, which included making an eagle on the 18th.

Ball Control: Tiger Woods was close to spot-on with his play in the opening round. He hit 10 fairways, 16 greens and took 28 putts. At one point, Woods ripped off a birdie run of six in a row. Players who started their rounds on the 10th tee had a chance to gain some momentum. The 18th hole is a par 5, followed by the shortest par 4 on the golf course and then the par-5 second. If a player teed off on the 10th, he had a chance to rip off a run of birdies.

Hole location: If you had to guess where a hole was placed in the opening round, just say five. There were 13 holes where the cup was cut five paces from the edge of the green. On the back nine, there were 8 holes that were five from the edge.

Phil’s thrills: Phil Mickelson posted a very solid 3-under 68, though it could have been much better. The par 5s all played as three of the easier holes on the golf course, and Mickelson did not make a single birdie on any of them. He was bogey-free but made pars on all of the par 5s.

Lucky: Noh birdied the last two holes to take the lead, which included making a 39-foot birdie on the 17th. How did he describe that putt, which crossed a ridge, bent hard to the left and ducked into the cup? Noh had a one-word description, “Lucky.” The key to Noh’s round was giving himself lots of chances to become “lucky.” Noh hit 16 greens and took just 26 putts.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.